Latin America

Make mistakes in Spanish

I completely misunderstood the appropriate use of a word in Spanish once…

Back in 2004 I founded a Travel Agency in Mendoza Wine Country. We specialized in Wine Tourism; The Grapevine Wine Tours it was called. The Grapevine did exceptionally well – talk about being in the right place at the right time with an incredible work ethic! We pioneered the Wine Tourism sector and lead the way for a number of years. We were recommended in all the travel guide books, worked with incoming operators in Buenos Aires and Santiago as well as Travel Agencies and Operators in the UK and USA.

In the early days of the agency as I was setting everything up I found myself in yet another meeting with the manager of El Banco Santander and my accountant. I’d been in many meetings like this one – there was always one more bit of paper to provide, one more signature to witness…

In this particular meeting though I was about to use the word kilombo.

Kilombo is very colloquial to Argentina and for INFORMAL use with friends only. It means a mess as in ¡Qué kilombo! ‘what a mess’ and is thrown around often in conversations about Argentine politics with friends over maté!

It is definitely not an appropriate word to use in a conversation with a bank manager! Luckily my accountant was a good friend of mine and stepped in before I was able to make a huge fool of myself.

Needless to say, all turned out ok in my meeting in the end and I left the bank with my dignity in tact, a sparkly new business bank account and a booming travel business.

Knowing when to use certain words in which situations in Spanish (or any language) is an important element of learning and although you can get away with most things when you are a beginner it’s important to learn early on in your journey what is street Spanish and what isn’t.

And what better Spanish tutor to have than one that has been there and made oh so many mistakes (and potentially very expensive ones) themselves!

What about you? Can you remember a time you ‘almost’ made a fool of yourself in Spanish? Maybe you’ve made so many mistakes and so had so many embarrassing experiences you’ve lost count?

Getting the language right in Spanish can lead to business success!

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